Dining Secrets the Cruise Lines Won’t Tell You

On board a cruise, all-inclusive food at most of the restaurants comes as standard. And since this deal is good enough on its own, many travellers leave it at that and don’t look for any other ways they can make their money stretch further or how they can get a better deal. If you want to stay ahead of the other passengers and enjoy a few extra freebies you ever even knew you could take advantage of, check out these cruise ship dining secrets the cruise lines won’t tell you that we’ve collected from our trips at sea.

Cruise Ship Dining Secrets: Enjoy room service at no extra charge
Enjoy room service at no extra charge: Photo Chris Goldberg / CC 2.0

Cruise Ship Dining Secrets

Room service is included

That’s right – unlimited food is covered by the price of your cruise, whether you want to eat it at a restaurant or in the comfort of your cabin. Some cruise liners only operate free room service during certain hours, such as Royal Caribbean, which offers it from 6am until midnight. On the other hand, other liners, such as Carnival, offer free room service 24/7. In order to avoid nasty surprise charges, it’s best to check with reception before placing a room service order.

Cruise Ship Dining Secrets: Cupcakes at MSC Divina Cakes and Pastries
Cupcakes at MSC Divina Cakes and Pastries: Photo Gary Bembridge / CC 2.0

Free food at coffee shops

Many travellers on tight budgets avoid the on board speciality coffee shops, like the Explorations Café on board Holland America cruise lines, because they usually charge extra for the coffees. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to the food – usually sweet treats such as pastries, cakes and muffins. Most of the time, the food at speciality coffee shops is included in the price of your cruise. Better yet – because few people know this, you’ll have a great chance of snapping up your favourite cake or pastry every time you go!

Cruise Ship Dining Secrets: Save money with free ice cream
Save money with free ice cream: Photo Neil Conway / CC 2.0

Free ice cream

If you’re travelling with little ones, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of your cruise liner’s free ice cream. Whilst you’re likely to come across some ice cream parlours and kiosks on board which charge you money for every scoop, such as the deliciously tempting Venchi Gelateria on board MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina, there is always a free option available. Sometimes you’ll find free ice cream in the dessert section of the main buffet restaurant and sometimes you’ll find standalone establishments selling the frozen snack, like the Trident Ice Cream Bar and Scoops on Crystal Cruise’s Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

Cruise Ship Dining Secrets: Crown Grill Speciality Restaurant on board Golden Princess
Crown Grill Speciality Restaurant on board Golden Princess: Photo Jasperdo / CC 2.0

Book a speciality restaurant for the first night

If you’re planning on making a reservation at one of the speciality restaurants during your cruise, make it for the first night. Not only will you find it easier to book a table (many travellers don’t even know there are speciality restaurants until a few nights into the cruise) but you might also bag yourself a discount or a free bottle of wine.

About Nicola Quinn

Website: http://www.happyhealthymotivated.com

Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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